Apollo Sunshine rocks for small crowd at Canopy Club

By Nicole Pirano

Say what you will about the University, but one thing is always true: you don’t need to leave campus for a good time. From $38 Kanye West concerts to free serenades from the ukulele guy at Espresso Royale, there is bound to be something for everyone. And you just might find yourself a good middle ground at The Canopy Club in Urbana, where you can enjoy intimate concerts with up-and-coming rock bands for under $10.

Last Tuesday night, the club was about as crowded as could be expected. The bands headlined, the Sun and Apollo Sunshine, were the sort that only those of us who dare venture outside the mainstream music world would know of. And with just 20 people at most decorating the front room of the club, this fact was made obvious.

Yet, the concertgoers present were not all from the University. Meaghan Gass and Mike Martello came from Illinois State University specifically to see Apollo Sunshine.

“It’s not really that far,” Gass said, “like 45 minutes.”

A friend of Gass’ introduced the Apples in Stereo fan to Apollo Sunshine this week, she said.

Her traveling companion, however, had been keen on Apollo for a while. Martello, who described the band as “Bad Finger meets the Flaming Lips,” was excited for the show.

“Apollo Sunshine’s a whole lot of fun,” Martello said. “I saw them once before.”

As for the Sun, Martello said, “I’ve never heard of them. But they’re on Capitol (Records).”

And as it turned out, Gass and Martello weren’t alone in coming just to see Apollo Sunshine.

Colin Fitzgerald, freshman in LAS, said, “My cousin actually knows them. My cousin’s a musician so I was over there talking to them. They’re pretty good.”

Fitzgerald, who likes the band’s older music and had just bought the new CD, was appreciative that Apollo Sunshine had come to the University.

“That’s the thing I like about a big school,” he said. “You don’t have to go anywhere. The events, the bands, come to you.”

As the opening band, the Decals, set up to start out the evening, 26-year-old Sam Cohen of Apollo Sunshine sat at a table near the bar. Sipping a Heineken and catching some of the White Sox game, Cohen seemed relaxed. He had done a number of shows like this.

“Mostly we play, like, music venues in bars and things like that,” he said. “But we do a lot of colleges.”

Cohen, who identifies Apollo as rock and roll, said the band started out at Berklee College of Music in Boston four years ago. Apollo has been getting more and more attention, he said.

“In Boston and surrounding places (we get) about 500 people. It seems like we get a new minimum of about 45 to 50 people when before it was like, two,” he said, laughing.

Cohen also mentioned that the band was featured in the “Must List” of the Oct. 14 issue of Entertainment Weekly.

After the Decals finished, Fitzgerald observed Apollo’s many instruments that were being set up.

“This is gonna be awesome,” he said. “There’s a slide guitar. That means it’s going to be awesome.”

As Apollo Sunshine positioned themselves on the stage – now decorated with white and colored rope lights – about 15 people moved to the front. The band opened with the song “Today is the Day” from their new album, and the audience quickly bopped along to the 50’s-esque rock beat.

“You could dance to it almost,” said Fitzgerald. “It was like swing.”

After playing old songs and a variety of instruments, from a two-necked bass to a cowbell, the band finished to a cheering crowd.

“I thought it was pretty good,” said 25-year-old Apollo bassist Sean Aylward of the show. “Yeah, I thought it was awesome.”

As the last member to join Apollo Sunshine, Aylward was excited about the band’s future. Apollo, who has been on tour since January, had just finished editing their video and hopes to get it out to networks like MTV and VH1, he said.

The band will also appear in Rolling Stone this week, said drummer Jeremy Black.

Though few people were left by the time the Sun came on around 12:45 a.m., 30-year-old Sun guitarist and keyboardist Brad Caulkins didn’t mind.

“I thought it was pretty good,” he said. “Originally we were supposed to open for Apollo.”

Resident of Urbana Booking Company Seth Fein, who organized the show, opted to put the Sun second since they were actually the bigger name. Though the Tuesday night crowd was lacking, Caulkins thought it was a “good turnout nonetheless. Good audience, appreciative audience.”